Day 5a: Internationalisation and Education, is it becoming more of a dream than reality?

Gabriella Rodolico and Mark Breslin

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Remember to join us on 10th December at 10:00-12:00 for our SoTL Network Meeting!

Today for Day 5 (Part A) we are going to be treated to a blog and interview about an Internationalisation project conducted at the School of Education. The project unfolded at the University of Glasgow during the Covid-19 pandemic and was led by Gabriella Rodolico and Mark Breslin (School of Education, University of Glasgow) in collaboration with Annamaria Mariani at University Niccolò Cusano Rome. They investigated how remote cooperative teaching, based on mutual enrichment across international Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers, could support active participation of students in international activities.

Blog

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

St Augustine

This famous phrase is reported in a blog posted by Craig Thompson in 2016 where he mentions John Feltham publication of English Enchiridion in 1700.  The quote continues

They that never stir from their home read only one page of this book

St Augustine

However, in a world where planes, trains and automobiles stopped moving and the world came to a sudden halt during the global pandemic of Covid 19, it was clear that many students would not have the opportunity to have any form of internationalisation experience intended as mobility.

At the School of Education, University of Glasgow, Mark Breslin (Lecturer in Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow) and I asked ourselves “Is this the university experience we would like our students to have, where they are isolated within their bedrooms or university dorms with little, or in some cases, no interaction with other students?” The answer was clearly NO!

Although the impact of internationalisation through students’ mobility has several benefits at multiple levels and is very complex, it was clear to us, that for many, the chance of exploring and experiencing different cultures, foods, religions, and the social interaction with students from other countries risked becoming a distant memory or even an impossible dream. Yet in the age of technology where distance and digital learning managed to support Education through a global pandemic, it was important to build on the good practice to create alternatives to mobility opportunities such as the Erasmus Mundus project.

In addition, as we emerge from the pandemic the future is unclear as to what internationalisation will look like, if at all. Furthermore, with the UK leaving the European Union, movement between countries is very unclear and there are many barriers that will need to be cleared before free movement of students where they can enjoy similar experiences such as the Erasmus Mundus programme.

As human beings we have the curiosity and the soul of explorers. Take Charles Darwin, for example. He was known for his contributions to science: as a geologist and scientist, he travelled far and beyond to evolve biology as he collected species from various countries around the world. More recent human travel adventures include NASA and the Mars 2020 preservative Rover Mission which seeks out any signs or forms of life and collects samples of rock and soil to return to earth for analysis. 

“These are all big exploration missions!!”, you may think. However, for a student studying within Higher Education, the wish to explore, as well as the spirit of adventure and excitement, remains the same. Internationalisation provides the opportunity for students to explore beyond their own habitat, and for many this will be a life-changing experience that will create memories to cherish forever. 

Conversations around internationalisation have changed significantly with the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and possibly Brexit have presented for student mobility. There has been a shift which has highlighted the impact of internationalisation on improving the quality of education, research, and other social goals. Supported by this evidence, and by the wish to improve our students’ experience, Mark and I investigated how technology could support active participation of students in international activities by organising cross-countries seminars. These were based on a multilingual and multicultural approach, with a focus on mutual enrichment across international Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers.

Participants were year 3 undergraduate students studying at the University of Glasgow, School of Education, on the Master of Education (MEduc) ITE programme and Italian student teachers on the course “Scienze della formazione” at the Niccolò Cusano University, Rome. They were supported by the participant tutors including Mark, myself and Annamaria Mariani (Lecturer in Education University Niccolò Cusano). 

Several sessions were organised and remotely delivered to both cohorts of students with a careful blending of tutors’ expertise, focused on their cultural and language diversity; a carefully planned topic of high interest for both countries: Parental Engagement in pupil’s Education; and finally, a very well taught integration of the sessions’ content and task requirements into both Universities’ assessment agenda.  Results showed a mutual enrichment and active participation which went beyond any expectations with elements of e-networking and overcoming of language, communication, and even possible stereotype barriers.

This experience opened up the hopes that meaningful international experience can be organised by relying on digital technology and the passion of Universities’ tutors as well as the wish to exchange knowledge and good practice that characterise Students around the world!

Interview

In this short interview Mark and Gabriella explain the rationale of their project and the impact it had on both Higher Education institutions’ students


Song of the Day 5a


Don’t forget to visit the Day 5(b) PostThe Future is Within Our Hands


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